Monday, November 14, 2005

Greek Dining at Christina's On The Danforth

A couple of friends and I went to Christina's on the Danforth for Greek food on a Friday night. Our reservations were for 7pm at which time the restaurant was still relatively empty. The hostess guided us to our table towards the back of restaurant, past many empty tables and farther and farther away from a booth that seemed to be set up for live entertainment. Making a mental note to request a table closer to this entertainment next time, we asked what time it might start and were told curtly that it would be around 9pm. This was by no means the friendliest wait staff I've encountered.

Looking around, I took in the decor of deep rich maroon and golden yellow. Attached to the ceiling were large exposed pipes painted to blend in with the walls, giving the place a warehouse feeling. On the walls were huge mounted colour photographs showing scenes presumably from various Greek towns. On back wall of the restaurant was what seemed to be a fire exit, but it was painted and decorated artfully to blend in with the decor. Surrounding the door were wires with lights and metal leaves attached to them, that formed an pretty archway.

We started the meal by sharing some breaded calamari which was cooked perfectly with a light tasty breading and served with a taziki-like sauce. For the entree, on the recommendation of the waiter who said it was one of the favorites, I ordered the Kotopoulo which is a stuffed chicken breast with mushrooms and peppers, served with rice, lemon roasted potatoes and fresh seasonal vegetables. It sounded really good and when it came, the portions were huge. Unfortunately I found the chicken to be dry (could have used a good sauce) and the stuffing to be lacking. The vegetables were also overcooked for my liking since I like my vegetables to be crisp and crunchy. Maybe I just chose wrong, since my friends who ordered the Atlantic Salmon filet and the Chicken Soulvaki both enjoyed their meals.

Every once in a while, the tables around us would order the flaming saganaki, which according to the menu is a Greek kefalograviera cheese that is flambeed in a shot of brandy right at your table. With the cry of "Opa", the plate roars with a flame that raises what seems to be several feet before it is quickly doused. The saying "Don't try this at home, kids" came to mind.

By around 8pm, the restaurant was packed so I guess the regulars knew to come a bit later to get ready for the live entertainment. At around 9pm, the music started and the sounds of coins rattling followed. Soon the belly dancer was making her way up the stairs and towards the back of the room. At each table, she would give a quick little dance and invite the occupants to get up and join her. Our table firmly declined the offer, thinking we did not have the right "equipment" to try this (i.e. thin waists and double jointed hips). Several men were coherced to give it a whirl and seemed to enjoy the close proximity to the pretty dancer. Finally a woman got up after much persuasion from her male companion and when she started dancing, it was obvious that she was a ringer and had done this before. The two women gave quite a duet much to the enjoyment of all around them.

Finally around 9:30, the belly dancer gave way to live musicians who played some rowdy greek tunes. It got a bit difficult to continue to carry on a conversation at that point, but it was fun to listen to the music. All in all, this was an enjoyable experience and I think I would give the food another try and order something else next time.

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